LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2021 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Joyful Antiracist Surf Lessons for BIPOC

Through free surf lessons for all BIPOC, education on surf history & culture, and original media content that elevates representation, Color the Water is committed to fighting racism, reclaiming coastal land and waters, and changing surf culture in Los Angeles. We are transforming surf culture from the aggressive, territorial way it is now into something similar to its roots - surf based on a love and respect for the ocean centered in sharing, community and compassion, while helping surfers care for and protect the ocean and each other.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Surfing has not escaped the legacy of institutionalized racism. Rooted as a communal and spiritual practice, surfing was received and reappropriated by white colonialism. The ocean and surfing have been commodified in a white led industry that amasses wealth, distorts origins, and centers themselves while disenfranchising BIPOC. The pervasive racism in surf culture has displaced people of color, forcing them away from the coast, from early missionary practices all the way to redlining and segregation. In Los Angeles, places like Inkwell or Bruce’s Beach continue to lack diversity, affordability, and accessibility. People of color are stigmatized and kept from water play by dangerous stereotypes such as the idea that Black people do not swim or surf, or notions that swimming, water polo, and surfing are white sports. The surf industry is one of the fastest-growing action sports industries in the world with a net worth of $10 billion that continues to leave BIPOC communities behind.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Color the Water is creating access to a truly inclusive, celebratory surf culture - respectful of the ocean and clearly against all forms of racism in and out of the water. - Provide Access and equip BIPOC with the knowledge, skills, and equipment needed to surf - Experience first-hand the benefits of ocean access and play through free surf lessons. - Celebrate and meet the BIPOC surf community in welcoming ways focused on equality and positivity - Educate the BIPOC surfer community with historical and cultural knowledge so they can represent themselves as BIPOC surfers fully and proudly - Explore all the ways to play at the ocean and the special chances the beach gives us people with true access. - Raise awareness on the joyful activity of riding waves as a community, paying respect to our ancestors, and creating a surf culture centered in community and conservationism. - Media representation of BIPOC surfers through powerful storytelling media. Everyone has a right to play in the ocean, especially those who have been historically denied access. We are creating a new coastal culture led by BIPOC waterpeople and contributing positivity and joy to surfing for all.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 1,000

Indirect Impact: 10,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

If our work is successful, LA beach culture will completely transform. Marginalized communities will have genuine access to the ocean. Surfing will look more like the diverse mix of people that make LA a multicultural capital of the world, establishing a new paradigm centered in true inclusivity and coastal conservation. Media representation will also change. The journey of learning will be documented with style, creating a fresh narrative that celebrates not only our diversity and the pursuit of riding waves but the pursuit of social and environmental justice as well. Education will likewise be transformed with curriculum that includes the history of racist realities along the coast, the BIPOC surf pioneers who fought against them, and the growing movement of people who embody a culture of joyful and defiant anti-racism. By 2050, 10,000 BIPOC surfers will have gained autonomy in surfing, cementing a sense of freedom and inclusion that will change surf culture forever.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Short-Term Results: Skill Building & Expansion Program Engagement - water safety, surf training, and events to improve skills and strengthen/grow BIPOC & anti-racist ally community - origins of surfing and ocean equity education Expanding Opportunities - 1,000 autonomous surfers by the end of 2021 - Increase the number and types of classes available - Increase anti-racist partnerships - Increase multimedia content Intermediate Results: Transformational Action Learning Circles - knowledge of surf history and culture/systemic racism/ocean conservation Representation - Increase social media presence and reach - Increase engagement with our surfer’s communities - Expanded/enhanced media to amplify the BIPOC surf community Long-Term Results: Cultural Paradigm Shift Advancement - 10,000 autonomous BIPOC surfers by 2050 - Increase BIPOC surfer representation in LA Beaches Community Partnership - Grow stronger as individuals, as a community, and as a collection of anti-racist partners

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

This submission is in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation who has agreed to serve as a fiscal sponsor for our proposal. The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches for all people through a powerful activist network. Beyond serving as a pass through for grant funding, the Surfrider Foundation Los Angeles chapter will be collaborative partners on the ground, helping to amplify our work and raise awareness around the issues threatening our coastal urban watersheds while fostering intersectional community stewardship as we work to strengthen the bridge between ocean access equity and ocean conservation.

Which of the PLAY metrics will you impact?​

Access to open space and park facilities

Parks with intergenerational play opportunities

Perceived neighborhood safety

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to CONNECT